On the eve of the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia, Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser announced the university's contribution to society award, research award and language award and recipients of the teaching staff of the year award for 2022.
"For the second year running, the university recognises deeds that change lives and reach beyond Estonia. This year's award winners stand out for their support to the weaker members of society and show that the university family has a great impact on improving life in Estonia," explained Tõnis Karki, Academic Secretary of the University of Tartu.
The contribution to society award 2022 is for raising public awareness of insufficient funding for higher education and research in Estonia. On the University of Tartu Student Union's initiative, students from six Estonian universities organised a student shadowing day during which they introduced the universities' everyday life and concerns to members of the Riigikogu. One of the initiatives the students took to draw attention to their difficult economic situation was the pilot project of the student canteen at Hugo Treffner Gymnasium. They achieved the highest visibility through the loud coin-jingling at the opening ceremony of the academic year, expressing the urgent need for more money in higher education.
The award goes to the University of Tartu Student Union and its President Katariina Sofia Päts.
The research award 2022 is for holograms that help children overcome the fear of hospitals and reduce pain levels. The special value of the innovation lies in the fact that the hologram characters shown to children at Estonian hospitals speak Estonian. The research project has received support from the University of Tartu Feasibility Fund.
The award goes to Associate Professor of Paediatric Neuropsychology Anneli Kolk and her team: Junior Research Fellow in Paediatric Neurology Alina Roštšinskaja, Research Fellow of Paediatric Neuropsychology Marianne Saard, Psychologist at the Children's Clinic of Tartu University Hospital Liisa Uutsalu and students of the Faculty of Medicine Triinu-Liis Loit, Kätlin Kits and Christen Kööp.
The language award 2022 is for engaging volunteers to teach Estonian to Ukrainian war refugees. Linguists at the University of Tartu developed a programme to help Ukrainians learn Estonian. Student volunteers helped Ukrainian children learn Estonian and adapt to school, and also taught adults. The particular value of the programme designed for Ukrainians lies in the possibility of using it as a model for bringing learners and teachers together in similar situations.
The award goes to Associate Professor of Psycholinguistics Virve-Anneli Vihman and her team: Senior Specialist in Geology, Programme Director for Geology and Environmental Technology Kairi Põldsaar; Associate Professor of Estonian as Foreign Language Mare Kitsnik; Junior Lecturer in Developmental and School Psychology Ada Urm; Research Fellow in Mordvin Languages Denys Teptiuk and Senior Specialist for International Marketing, a doctoral student in Estonian and Finno-Ugric Linguistics Anna Branets.
The University of Tartu best teaching staff of the year awards go to Olga Schihalejev, Associate Professor of Religious Education of the School of Theology and Religious Studies (Faculty of Arts and Humanities), Andero Uusberg, Associate Professor of Affective Psychology of the Institute of Psychology (Faculty of Social Sciences), Raivo Puhke, Lecturer in Functional Morphology of the Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy (Faculty of Medicine), and Ivo Leito, Professor of Analytical Chemistry of the Institute of Chemistry (Faculty of Science and Technology). For more information about the recipients of the teaching staff of the year 2022 award, see the University of Tartu website.
The research award, the contribution to society award and the teaching staff of the year awards will be presented on 23 February at the ceremony marking the anniversary of the Republic of Estonia. The language award will be presented on the Mother Tongue Day, 14 March.
The University of Tartu gives out annual awards to recognise its members' outstanding achievements in giving higher education, doing research and serving society to value their visibility at the university and in society. In giving out the annual awards, the university proceeds from its strategic plan and good practices.
The teaching staff of the year award is given to recognise one teaching staff member in each faculty for excellent teaching skills in the previous year. The evaluation proceeds from the Good practice of teaching. All students can submit nominees for the teaching staff of the year award. The student council of each faculty chooses the five best teaching staff members of their faculty, from among whom the evaluation committee of the University of Tartu Student Union decides the recipients of the award. In 2022, 131 proposals for recognition with the award were submitted, mentioning 104 teaching staff members.
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